Benedicte Kouassi of the Ivory Coast, and Chair of the Publications and Communications Committee  attended the One Young World Conference in the US in October. This is her summary report.  

Where are we?

Global warming, unemployment, infectious diseases, poverty, food insecurity… are some of the issues the world is facing. Many conferences have brought together the world leaders to address these issues. Unfortunately, the situation is still the same.  Today of the 34.2 million people living with HIV[1], 7 million are young people[2]. Every minute a young woman is newly infected with HIV. Globally some 74.8 million youth aged 15–24 were unemployed, an increase of more than 4 million since 2007[3]. The global youth unemployment rate, at 12.7 per cent, remains a full percentage point higher than the pre-crisis level. Some 101 million children are not in school, more than half of them are girls[4]. Global warning seriously affects agriculture therefore threatening countries economies. Food insecurity is a reality. Challenges are big and it seems impossible to achieve a better world.
Can Young people change the world?

Former president Alvaro Uribe addressing delegates

Even if challenges are big there is some hope. Worldwide youth led initiatives and organizations are being created with the aim to address the most pressing issues thus trying to improve lives, reduce inequality and create a better world.  This hope was shared by some 1200 young people from 183 countries in Pittsburgh during the One Young World, an annual event gathering young people from the world with the aim to discuss how young people can solve the world pressing issues.

Between October 18 -21 these young people debated issues such as education, transparency, global health, human rights, leadership and sustainable development. The delegates listened  to advice from world recognized leaders such as former presidents Bill Clinton and Alvaro Oribe, writer Fatima Bhutto, professor Mohamad Yunus, Unaids Goodwill ambassador James Chau, Bob Geldoff of LiveAid just to name a few. On the summit’s last day, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan met with young people and talked about global citizenship. The summit was a mixture of plenary, breakouts and special sessions.

The delegates say this summit motivated them a lot. ‘This summit encourages me to do better as a change agent’ a delegate says. The summit ended with a pledge from delegates to improve their communities.

The next One Young World summit will be held in Johannesburgh, South Africa

More information available here


[1]  World Health organization, media centre,factsheet n 360 , July 2012, consulted on October,25 2012

[2] YouthCoalition advocacy message,  consulted on October 25, 2012

[3] GlobalUnemployment Trends 2012, International Labor Office ,  viewed on october 25, 2012

[4] Unicef,Basic education and gender equality, equal access to education,  viewed on october 25, 2012